On Friday, Oct. 8, Gov. Schwarzenegger finally signed California’s state budget—100 days later than the state’s constitutionally prescribed June 15 deadline. This comes as no surprise to veteran surveyors of the state’s political scene, as the legislature has only met this deadline five times since 1980.
The worst of it, though, is that the budget won’t even close California’s much talked about $19 billion deficit for the long term—it mostly delays most of the spending for next year through budgetary maneuvers. “It’s full of false assumptions and failed gimmicks,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said in a statement.
Regardless of who’s elected governor, be it Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman, either will face immediate budget problems.
Because of these problems, Californians have put Proposition 25 on the ballot, which would amend the state constitution to lower the voting requirement to pass a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority, making it much easier to approve a state budget.
While we sympathize with those who complain about California’s shoddy budget process, Prop 25 is not the way to solve this mess.
If our legislature were able to pass a budget with a simple majority, our budget process would become as political and partisan as the most recent campaign for governor has been. The party in power would be able to pass their legislative agenda without even a whimper from the minority party.
This may solve our problems with gridlock, but it will hardly lead to better budgets.
The legislature should still have a two-thirds majority to pass budgets, requiring compromise from both parties, but something must be done to force them to pass timely budgets.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, wrote in the 2010 edition of “The Washington Report,” a publication by the congressman, “I propose the automatic adoption of the governor’s proposed budget, provided it is free of tax hikes, if the legislature fails to pass its own budget by the constitutional deadline.”
This is too radical for The Collegian’s tastes, but it certainly has the right idea.
A better way to solve this problem may be another provision from Prop 25.
The lesser-known proposal in this proposition prohibits members of the legislature from collecting any salary or reimbursements for travel or living expenses for every day that a budget is not passed after the June 15 deadline. According to analysis by the legislative analyst, this measure would cut $50,000 in costs for every day a budget was not passed.
This seems like a common-sense proposal. We students receive failing grades if we do not turn in our projects on time; it seems right that our state senators and assemblymen and women should kind of punishment.
Prop 25 should not be passed; it will result in more partisanship and will not help our state as it tries to fix its fiscal woes. The two-thirds majority vote should stay.
The legislature should pass a bill revoking members’ pay for every day that a budget is not passed.